This story was written last year by both Nicole and I in response to our desire to want to communicate the impact horses were and are having in shaping our lives. It is really a stream of consciousness writing. It could probably be perfected and re-constructed in some ways...after all we wrote it about a year ago. I like it as it is because it is like a dream we were having about the level of connection possible in our relationships with our horses.
Of course our old Jesse was the inspiration for it. He is also the inspiration for Nicole's Equine Whole Health Expo that we have held twice now. That event is sure to grow into a kind of tradition for people searching out the best possible natural health practices. Nicole and her husband John adopted Jesse over a year ago and changed his life radically. He flourished under their care and demonstrated what we all have learned in this work...that the old timers have plenty to teach us and share with us ....if we take care of their needs as they deserve.
I have learned countless things from horses and possibly the most important lesson is that not one single thing made by the hands of the Creator (or whatever you choose to call your higher power) is a mistake. We are all connected in a delicate interconnected web of life and what happens to the horses will and does happen to us in turn. The disconnect from them and the indifference about their well being is a serious symptom of an imbalance in our hearts and heads. By offering to care and stand up for them, as they are, companions molded by our desires to have them at our sides we take responsibility for our hand in their evolution and in turn restore ourselves to the conscious partners they need us to be in the world.
A Close Encounter
by Nicole Birkholzer and Pamela Rickenbach
What if you found yourself walking along a road. A dusty farm road surrounded by large fields of alfalfa that went on and on as far as the eye could see. What if you begin to make out a form coming towards you. A big dark form on 4 legs. As you get closer you realize you are approaching a very large black horse. As you get closer you begin to see him more clearly. He is big, much bigger than you, with a long black mane and tail and a shiny black coat. You have never seen a horse like this, this big, this beautiful, this impressive. This magnificent horse is slowly walking towards you, on the same path. You feel excited, scared, uncomfortable and small. What if this horse is dangerous? Are horses dangerous you wonder. You realize you really know very little about them. You know that they are domesticated animals and have lived with humans for thousands of years yet you know very little about them. Do they bite? Do they chase? Do they naturally dislike and distrust humans or are they naturally friendly and curious and kind? What should you do you wonder. You feel vulnerable. You know you can't out run him if he chases you and you know that he is getting closer and very soon you will meet him. He is getting closer and closer and now you can see his eyes, his big dark eyes looking at you. He is calm and his walk is steady and sure. His ears move, like antennae scanning the surroundings, you see them turn towards you and you see the horse lift his head and he hear him snort...not loud but softly blowing out the dusty air. He lifts his nose towards you as if he is trying to smell you from a distance and he keeps coming closer. He arrives a few feet from you and stops. His head is lifted and he is smelling, trying to understand your scent. You say in a soft voice, good boy, or are you a girl...you try to get a look underneath his belly and you see he is indeed a male. A beautiful, big, black male horse. You think to yourself my god he is magnificent. You feel a tingly thrill as you take in his beauty and power and presence, you almost forget that you know nothing about him...for a moment all you know is that you are in the presence of something so incredibly mysterious and awesome that he really defies description. You can smell his sweet scent, strong and so uniquely his...you want to breathe in more of it....You are more comfortable now and as you relax he moves closer. You reach out your hand and offer it to him to smell....not sure of how to approach him..you want to touch him and move in closer and feel him. He comes closer and starts smelling your clothes and your hands and your neck as if his smelling was revealing everything about you to him.
He moves back and you move forward and you raise your hand to pet him, he shies and then smells again. You put your hand on his shoulder and run your hand along his enormous body. He must weigh 2,000 lbs you think. He must, he is enormous and beautiful and you feel yourself growing fonder and fonder. Then he talks..you jump back, your heart racing, it can't be that he just said words ..did you really hear them...then he speaks again. He calls you by your name and begins to tell you who you are. You are scared and confused but you know that every word he shares is the truth. You ask him how he knows you and tells you that everything you are is in your smell and your posture and in your eyes. He tells you about your helplessness and mortality. He tells you about the humans' collective capacity for making the world a better place despite the cruelty and violence and colossal levels of ignorance and greed.
He tells you about your vulnerabilities, and how being vulnerable is not an inadequacy not a limitations or weakness, but rather a sign of availability to hear, to listen. A sign to receive and emphasize. And that your personal defeats and failures are nothing less than opportunities to learn and grow. He tells you about the injustices and exploitations that might have caused your suffering. But he also tells you that there is joy, and hope and calm even amidst all the challenges you are facing. You are hope he tells you, you are the one that can make a difference for him, for his herd, for his ancestors. Then he pauses, your head is reeling, you want to know more, “how can I help?” you wonder … you are yearning for more, more revelations. You take a breath and as you do he speaks again, he asks you for something, something to do for him. He asks you to help him. Then you wake up....you are in your bed in the middle of the night...for a moment you are confused and shaken and not sure of where you are and then you remember....something was asked of you....you were asked to help.
Is it possible for us to shift our focus from needing and wanting attention to giving it instead. Can we have an equally enriching relationship with our horses as we interchangeably show up as teacher and student. Can we put him first and forget about ourselves while we unconditionally give everything necessary to help the horses lives become better. Can we connect to our wisdom. Connect with our senses and our intuition, as part of an essential change so we can arrive back at a place of authenticity and inner knowing.
If we can and if we do I am convinced that there are amazing discoveries to be made. Not only will we be restored in a physical,\ emotional and spiritual way but in a collective way where the whole world will be made better.
The horses are still with us as they have been for the past 6000 years. They are alongside us waiting for us to wake up and see the miracle of our relationship and all the gifts it holds for us. Can we receive it all by simply putting them first for everyone’s sake?
It is time. Let’s get started!”
Jesse in his youth, an amazing carriage horse extraordinaire!
Jesse as he is now in his thirties, a teacher, a reflection, a friend and companion. A grand old man.